Each Monday, film fan and champion of the downtrodden Jordan Sims picks out an overlooked gem – and gives them the spotlight they so dearly deserve.
This week, it’s the turn of early, low-budget and oft-overlooked Martin Scorsese drama Mean Streets. Here are five unconventional reasons why it’s an underrated classic.
1. The birth of the famous partnership
We have this film to thank for Taxi Driver, as this was where the DeNiro-Scorsese partnership was born. The two would later yield such other classics as Raging Bull, Casino and Goodfellas too.
2. Mrs Scorsese got a role
Catherine Scorsese, mother of Martin, was given a role in Mean Streets, as his trademark gimmick. In the scene where the woman has an epileptic fit, Catherine is the woman who helps her. Nepotism Shmepotism – we’d all do it, and we know it.
3. Scorsese’s stubbornness
Knowing the film’s humble budget, king of schlock Roger Corman offered the then-unknown director a large sum of money to kick-start the funding, under the condition that the film was shot with an all-black cast. Scorsese turned the offer down, as he felt that this wouldn’t be right for the movie; artistic morals that Hollywood has long since abandoned.
4. It was filmed in a flash
The film was actually shot in just 27 days, running over its initial projected filming time of 25 days. This was partly due to the extremely low budget that Scorsese had to work with, and as a result of the lack of money and the time constraints, some of the scenes had to be captured with handheld cameras – a technique that would be later described as ‘innovative’ by critics.
5. The incredible music
Mean Streets’ soundtrack is legendarily classy, which is even more credit to the director after you learn that most of the songs were taken from Scorsese’s personal record collection. At the cost of over 50% of the film’s budget, his ingenious use of tunes comes to a head in this scene, in which we are first introduced to De Niro’s bad-boy character. Money well spent.
Watch the trailer:
More underrated classics
A Town Called Panic
The Other Guys
Killing Them Softly
In The Loop
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
From Dusk Til Dawn
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists
The Assassination of Jesse James
Without a Paddle
Grave of the Fireflies
The Adventures of Tintin
The Invention Of Lying
The Money Pit
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